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Baybeigh Naiymz
September 2003

2)  Don’t pick a Kewl Celebrity Baby Name.

Once a celebrity names a kid something, it seems like the name is already speeding down the slippery slope into the Swamp of Trendy and Overused. Lookit the profusion of Avas and Liams and Pipers and Irelands out there now. So I realize Maddox is a RILLY CUTE name, but try to resist.

Plus, many celebs exist, in part, to fill a void in the baby-naming realm…. See, they do what we Mere Mortals can’t and shouldn’t… they name their kids things like Fuddy (Damon Wayans) and Sistine Rose (Sylvester Stallone) and Saffron Sahara and Tallulah Pine (Simon and Yasmin LeBon) and Wylie Quinn Anna Rose (the dude from MacGyver) and Speck Wildhorse (John Mellencamp) and Elijah Bob Patricius Guggi Q (Bono). Celebrities, and by association, their children, are somehow magically outside of the “normal” range of kid names. But if Fuddy had to go get a job in customer service like the rest of us…. Wow.

And, in a similar vein, use common sense if you want to name your kid after someone famous. “I named her Audrey after Audrey Hepburn” is going to cause enough eye rolling, because there is NO WAY a child could live up to that. But having a little Keanu or Oprah or Beyonce or Cuba will just invite snickers and titters. And imagine how someone who named their son Kobe a couple years ago feels right now. Sheesh.

3) Don’t name the child after where it was conceived.

Poor, poor little Brooklyn Beckham. Can you imagine what he’s going to go through when he has to write the inevitable English class essay about his name? Or remember the Jay Leno joke about how, when Debbie Rowe was asked about her and Michael Jackson’s daughter’s name, she replied that they named her Paris after where she was conceived…? Jay cracked something along the lines of “Because that’s MUCH easier to spell than In Vitro!”

Malibu Johnson or Vegas Smith or Reseda Daniels or Cheviegh Backseat Simmons are going to have to explain time and time again that they are named after the place where their parents Did It. Fun. There’s enough TMI in the world… don’t make it part of your child’s name.

4) Don’t name your child after “V.C. Andrews”© characters.

Or Dungeons and Dragons characters, or Lord of the Rings characters, or Japanime characters, or Disney characters, or Star Wars characters or- Enough already with super-faux-goth-princess-of-darkness names. The world doesn’t need another Heaven, Leigh, (or Heaven Leigh), Logan, Jory, Raven, Drake, Arden, or Willow. And see the unintended message re: soap opera names.

5) Don’t name your child wondrously ethnic names if you are not of said ethnicity just because they “sound pretty.” Don’t pilfer other cultures.

On one hand, there is an old friend of THTM. He and his wife just had Jessica Kai – both are of Japanese and Hawaiian descent, so “Kai” actually means something to them and their families. On the other hand, take one of my many cousins. She named her daughter Cheyanne (sic). Is she Native American? Is her daughter? Heck, no! It just “sounded pretty.” Or then there’s the acquaintance who gave her two sons super-Welsh first names… but her last name is Hernandez. They sound like multi-ethnic cartoon characters! Would it make sense to name a kid Kentaro Jiro Cohen if you are of no Asian decent whatsoever, and have no links to the culture from which the names came?

It’s not only obtuse, but it’s bordering on offensive if you name your child the Swahili word for “joy” when you have no other relation to that culture or people. Look at the character Dee in Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use”: when Dee discovers that it’s suddenly trendy to embrace her African roots, and jumps on the Black Cultural Awareness bandwagon, she changes her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo… which is a muddle of various African names/languages – Kenyan, Ugandan, etc. – and serves to show Dee as a shallow and uniformed person. Someone who names their child Aolani (because ooooh, isn’t it PRETTY, and some website said it was the Hawaiian word for “heavenly cloud” and sounds perfect with the middle name we picked out, Jade!) but yet has no real connection with Hawaiian culture, is equally as shallow and uninformed. Cut it out!

p.s. “Dakota” is NOT a “Native American” name!

6) Don’t give the kid a surname-as-first-name if the surname has no relevance to you or your family.

The Last-Name-As-First (or Middle) – Name thing goes back centuries. Eliza Jane Wilder Thayer (Laura Ingalls Wilder’s sister-in-law) named her son Wilder to carry on her family name. Helen Keller was given a family name, Adams (although it was supposed to be Everett, but her father messed up, but that’s another story) for her middle name. But it just sounds silly and/or pretentious to name a child Finn, Parker, Taylor, Tyler, McGillis, McLaughlin, or whatever when the name has nothing to do with your family.

7) Don’t give your daughter a fluffy, super-sparkly-girly, could-be-a-porn-star name.

Unfortunately, people will make assumptions and not take her seriously. Frankly,
Stormy, Taryn, Caitlynn, and KayCee, Lainey, Bekkah Blue and Summer Sunshine and the whole lot of them just don’t SOUND like they should be taken seriously. Women have enough trouble in this society… who needs the additional handicap of a Fairy Princess Porn Star name?

Plus – and I know it’s horrible, but I’m admitting it, okay? – when I was in Jr. Hi., it seemed like most of the female special ed. students had super-trendy fluffy stripper names: there was Ainsley, Dovie, and Lexi. It just seemed inappropriate and goofy.

8) Don’t give your son a buff-studly-romance-novel-hero name.

Unfortunately, people will make assumptions and not take him seriously either.

Buck Cody Berkowitz isn’t going to grow up to look like Fabio and drive women wild. Cyrus Cade Adamski won’t automatically be the BMOC football star. Justus will be a scrawny geek and Xander will hate vampires and all things gothic. Dakota Blaze will become a plumber and Brazzen Brawley will work at Wal-Mart and Aiden Chance will date-rape someone at a high-school party.

See, it seems like all of this Fluffy Girly/Macho Manly name thing only emphasizes the fact that, no matter what lip service we pay to equality and gender roles, Americans are still pretty much living by the stereotypes that girls are supposed to be super-feminine and boys super-masculine, and there’s no happy medium. Well, unless the super-trendy androgynous names qualify.


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